Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wildfire season: "It's time to prepare your home for wildfires. The time was actually yesterday," - CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott.

 Officials with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise said in their 2013 summer fire outlook that a dry winter and expected warming trend mean the potential for significant fire activity will be above normal on the West Coast, in the Southwest and portions of Idaho and Montana
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 The 2013 wildfire season is off to a early start: 
Springs Fire in Ventura County: 28,000 acres
Summit Fire in Riverside County: 3,166 acres
Panther Fire in Tehama County: 6,864 acres
Springs Fire
PHOTOGRAPH BY: MEL MELCON / LOS ANGELES TIMES
 Wildfire season came early this year, Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that Californians must be prepared to become accustomed to it.

Saying the federal government has done little to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases that scientists say contributes to climate change, Brown said the state has to be prepared for long-term change.

"Our climate is changing. The weather is becoming more intense," Brown said at a news conference at Cal Fire's aviation facility. "Wildfire season has grown over the last four years. It's gotten longer and larger."

"The big issue is how do we adapt?" he said. "Adapting is going to be very, very expensive."

Monday's event was the an annual state Wildfire Awareness Week, but this year the arrival of awareness week came as Californians were aware that wildfire season was upon them.

The annual awareness week is designed to tell homeowners about the importance of maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around their homes and hardening them with fire-resistant materials. The agency has an informational website, ReadyforWildfire.org.

"It's time to prepare your home for wildfires. The time was actually yesterday," said CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott.

Wildland fire suppression costs have topped $220 million in four of the past six fiscal years. This fiscal year, $221 million has been spent, with eight weeks remaining.
Pimlott said the number of wildfires this year is nearly double the average for early May. From January through May 2 -- the day the Springs Fire began -- nearly 23,000 acres had burned statewide, more than 10 times the total at the same point last year.
In only two of the past 10 years has the amount budgeted for emergency fire suppression covered the costs, Finance Department figures show. The annual amount budgeted has climbed to $93 million this year from $55 million in 2001-02.

"We will do whatever it takes to fight the fires," 
Natural Resources Secretary John Laird  said.

Laird also said state officials authorized CAL FIRE to increase its staffing for Wildland fire season on April 15, a month ahead of schedule because 
the final snow survey measured statewide snowpack water content at 17 percent of normal and the National Weather Service identified nearly all of California as having greater than normal potential for large fires this year.
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